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Faculty Spotlight: Charles Nuckolls

Charles Nuckllos Headshot

Charles Nuckolls teaches Screenwriting and Advanced Dramatic Writing at The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute, NYC. He is also a part of the Playwrights and Directors Unit of the Actor’s Studio. LSTFI and the Actor’s Studio have a long and successful history together. Lee Strasberg taught classes and developed many of his Method Acting techniques by working with actors at the Studio. Because of his work at the Actor’s Studio, Charles Nuckolls had already “known the work of Lee [Strasberg].” The Studio “got me into the family,” said Charles.

“Ultimately, I am a storyteller. The essence of what we are doing is telling stories. We have to get people interested in what we have to say.”

Charles Nuckolls, on his career in film/theatre

In his career, Charles is a passionate storyteller. “I like to tell stories that deal with subject matter that is challenging… [Stories] that are rooted in the ways in which we treat one another, good and bad.” Two of his recent projects showcase this desire for challenging subject matter in a very real way. One is Remnants of a Dream: The Story of Dearfield Colorado, a documentary of the story of the first African American settlement in Colorado. The other is 20 Minutes of Action, a cinematic dramatization of the anonymous testimony of the woman assaulted by Brock Turner in 2015. Although this topic is hard to see, the story it is telling is important and the women acting in the piece “use experiential acting techniques, like what we teach at Strasberg.”

Remnants of a Dream

For Charles, Remnants of a Dream was a passion project and long time commitment. It all began in 2010, “I first came across a newspaper article” about Dearfield and the African American homesteaders. “I decided to get in touch with the author about the ghost town.” He was able to visit and was surprised to discover “the remains [of homes] were still there… hence the [documentary] title.” It got him thinking about what life was like for the people of Dearfield.

Charles was recently interviewed on Colorado Public Radio and gave wonderful historical context for the documentary.

I am extremely proud to play a role in bringing this story to the public.”

Charles Nuckolls on directing and creating Remnants

“I try to resurrect the lives and nuances of what these people were going through… one of the greatest things was the sense of community they created.” The homesteaders lived in “extremely rough conditions.” Dearfield was mostly a farming community, but there was a lot more to Dearfield than just farming. “I was surprised to see just how intertwined… political, economic and civic structures were.”They held “community life parties” and had “economic stability.”

Teaching at The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute

Charles teaches Screenwriting and Advanced Dramatic Writing. Since his students are primarily actors, Charles challenges them to think about the kind of characters they want to play. Actors want to play characters who are “complex” and “have something to say” and should, as writers, craft characters who are that strong. Stories that are particularly interesting to Charles are stories of “people who have good intentions, but do bad things… All characters have flaws.”

Charles notes, “The Strasberg Institute deals with sensory work. Being able to tap into ourselves for our work.” He advises his students to build characters and stories from yourself when writing, just as they would when acting. “Keep [Strasberg’s] work connected to the [writing] work,” he urges. Another piece of advice? Always have a project in the works. “I am always writing something,” Charles says, “and actively working on several things.”

“I think we all continually have to be students of our own craft in order to gain a better understanding of the craft and our relationship to it.”

Charles Nuckolls, on self-improvement

Charles finds the evnironment at LSTFI to be ideal for creativity and inspiration. As people come from all over the world to study The Method at Strasberg, the study body is incredibly diverse and rich in culture. Appreciating LSTFI as a multicultural setting, Charles notes, “[the students] all bring their own cultural perspectives from all over the world.” This level of diversity creates an atmosphere for “the most robust dramatic material.”

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